Robert Genco alias Genco Roberto aka Roberto Genco. Ya dig?
Straight outta Reggio Calabria’s deepest streets, here’s our own funky drummer, ladies, and gents.
Robert Genco made a name for himself as a dope drummer in the mid and late Seventies, performing and playing his drum set to the fullest, moving towards jazz and rock, with an indelible hint of funk. As a session musician first, then going further on producing his own only full-length LP.
Now, Italy in the Seventies had many talented and renowned jazz and rock drummers. Think of the likes of Tullio De Piscopo, Bruno Biriaco, Agostino Marangolo, Gil Cuppini, just to name a few. Well, despite this excellent competitive arena, we can easily say that Robert Genco was ranking among the cream of the crop, period.
The only thing to refrain him from commercial success, probably, was the mere fact that he was a lonely man from deep South Italy. Fascinated by the music of Billy Cobham, with whom some say he’d played somewhere in Calabria in 1977 in a sort of workshop Billy did while touring locally, our man is of mystery, to say the least.
He was known for strolling down the streets of Reggio Calabria, dressed in black, discussing incredible funk tales and anecdotes from a different era. “Beyond Life” was a funk-tinged progressive jazz record, originally auto-produced by the man himself, then reissued through famous Peppino Gagliardi’s own imprint with a distribution deal with Durium records. Both versions are quite sought after.
In this album, which, ironically, from the title, looks like a testament, Genco gives a full rendition of his funk perspectives. Many have put him close to the likes of James Senese’s own Napoli Centrale sound, for both his progressive drumming and luscious arrangements, and his being keen on discussing controversial social topics of his times. Keep in mind that in 1977 Italy was a weird place…
Aside from playing drums, he sings, too, even if many agree on saying that he’s a way better drummer than a singer…The double-sider, where Genco’s cutting edge drumming is a perfect set for Hugo Heredia flute and saxophone to stand up, is supported by fellow bass player Silvio Condemi, Giorgio Cocilovo on guitar, Tuccio Garofalo on keyboards, and Luciano Biasutti on the trumpet.
These are the main ingredients that he put into the mix to record and release his only album, Beyond the Life, a private press which is a sacred Graal for many diggers of Italian prog music.
Try to find your own copy, it’s worth the hunt.